Dumpster divers say it’s easy to list discarded toys, electronics and books on the retailer’s platform. So we decided to try.
By Khadeeja Safdar, Shane Shifflett and Denise Blostein, updated Dec. 18, 2019 3:38 am ET
Just about anyone can open a store on Amazon.com and sell just about anything. Just ask the dumpster divers.
These are among the dedicated cadre of sellers on Amazon who say they sort through other people’s rejects, including directly from the trash, clean them up and list them on Amazon.com Inc.’s platform. Many post their hunting accounts on YouTube.
They are an elusive lot. Many The Wall Street Journal contacted wouldn’t give details about their listings, said they stopped selling dumpster finds or no longer listed them as new, didn’t respond to inquiries or stopped communicating. Some said they feared Amazon would close their stores.
So the Journal set out to test whether these claims were true. Reporters went dumpster diving in several New Jersey towns and retrieved dozens of discards from the trash including a stencil set, scrapbook paper and a sealed jar of Trader Joe’s lemon curd.
The Journal set up a store on Amazon to see if it could list some of its salvaged goods for sale as new.
It turned out to be easy.
Amazon’s stated rules didn’t explicitly prohibit items salvaged from the trash when the Journal disclosed the existence of its store to the company last month. The rules required that most goods be new and noted that sellers could offer used books and electronics, among other things, if they identified them as such.
“Sellers are responsible for meeting Amazon’s high bar for product quality,” an Amazon spokeswoman said. Examples the Journal presented to Amazon of dumpster-sourced listings “are isolated incidents,” she said. “We are investigating and will take appropriate action against the bad actors involved.”